Can an employer make deductions from remuneration for work not done?
The two employees approached the Labour Court for an order declaring that the deductions made by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (the “department”) against their remuneration were contrary to section 34 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (the “BCEA”), read with section 34 of the Public Service Act, 1994 (the “PSA”). The employees also sought repayment of the monies deducted. The department argued that the employees were not entitled to the deducted amounts because of the “no work, no pay” principle.
After assessing the evidence, the court found for the department.
While it was common cause that the employees did not consent to the deductions, there was a dispute as to whether they had been given a reasonable opportunity to make representations before the deductions were made. The employees’ arguments in this regard were mutually destructive as they had, on the one hand, claimed that they had not been given a reasonable opportunity to make representations, while, on the other, they contended that they had made representations, which the department had not taken into account. When requested by the court to provide proof of such representations, the employees were unable to do so. As a result, the court held that the probabilities were that the employees had not made representations to the department, and the department was entitled to implement the “no work, no pay” principle and to make deductions from the employees’ remuneration. Therefore, the employees’ application was dismissed.
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